The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Myths, Legends And Too Much Exposition In 'Goddess Chronicle'

Aug 7, 2013

At its best, Natsuo Kirino's The Goddess Chronicle is a dark and lovely feminist retelling of the Japanese creation myth. At worst, it's a stiff, repetitive exercise in telling, not showing.

On an island shaped like a teardrop, two sisters are born. Pretty Kamikuu ("Child of Gods") is chosen as the successor to the Oracle — which means Namima ("Woman amid the waves"), the "impure" sister, must tend the dead and show them the way to the underworld. But Namima rebels. She flees the island in a boat with the man she has fallen in love with, and bears his child on the journey. Then, without warning or explanation, he strangles her.

Intertwined with the story of the sisters is that of the gods Izanami and Izanaki, who created Japan out of the drops of water at the end of a spear. After Izanami dies giving birth to the god of fire, Izanaki chases her into the underworld. Unable to bear the sight of her rotting flesh, he flees, sealing the door behind him. In revenge, she vows to kill 1,000 people every day, and in return he vows to impregnate 1,500 women every day.

Namima, killed by her own husband, joins the vengeful goddess and becomes her priestess in the grim underworld. She says of Izanami, "It would not be an overstatement to say that the fate she suffered is the fate that all women of this land must bear." That is, without question, the primary message of the novel: Women, by their very nature, must suffer.

The world is split into halves: "the dark half [is] earth, woman, death, night, dark, yin and yes, pollution," which contrasts with heaven, man, birth, day, light and yang. She notes "You may wonder why everything was paired in this way, but a single entity would have been insufficient. In the beginning, two became one, and from that union new life came."

But here, the power of the passage is ruined by a graceless explication: "Whenever a single entity was paired with its opposite, the value of both became clear from the contrast — and the mutual association enriched the meaning of both." Kirino is a chronic over-explainer, and the constant commentary often mars the dark simplicity of the story.

One chapter ends with, "Saying nothing, she turned and walked out of the room where she worked — the room in which she determined each day which thousand people would die." The next begins with, "It was Izanami's task to select who would die — a thousand people every day." In some myths, repetition can be songlike and beautiful. Think, for instance, of the refrain of the Brothers Grimm: over and over again, Snow White has "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony." But here, the repetition isn't enchanting — it just feels as though Kirino expects readers to forget the story from one page to the next.

If Kirino understood the value of suggestion, of leaving some things unsaid, The Goddess Chronicle would be all the more powerful.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.